“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”
Life throws a lot at you…all the time. And no one really tells you how to handle it. Sure, your parents teach you the basics and you look to professionals to help you fill in the rest, but being a human is a total trial run from birth to death. No two people share the same journey, yet sometimes people forget that.
I think to begin living unapologetically, you must first understand how others do it. For that, you need empathy. This is a skill that takes a lot of practice, but by the time you’ve become skilled at it you should be able to put yourself in anyone’s shoes and understand why they think the things they think and do the things they do. And this applies to politics, too-bear with me.
My dad and I argue about something related to politics almost every day, and on most issues we’re on different sides of the spectrum. But I strive to understand his point of view every time we talk about it, to ‘get’ why he thinks the way he thinks. He’s not wrong. No one is wrong when explaining their beliefs. His just don’t match up with mine sometimes, and that’s okay. The other day, we were discussing one topic that we always seem to come back to because we just don’t agree on it. Every time we talk about it, though, I try to see things from his perspective. This time, he worded things differently than he had in the past and I suddenly had an ‘aha’ moment. I actually told him, “I get it now. I understand.” He was able to persuade me to change my mind on that subject. He wouldn’t have been able to do this if I didn’t have an open mind. Like I said already, every time I talk to him about politics, I truly take the time to put myself in his shoes. I don’t just blindly believe what I believe and that’s it. My mind can be changed if I feel it’s right for me to do so.
Now what the heck does my rant about politics have to do with anything? Well, open-mindedness usually accompanies another key skill in living unapologetically: being nonjudgmental.
It’s no secret that people are very quick to judge (some more than others). This is something I’ve been working on with myself the past couple years and although I still find my thoughts occasionally straying somewhere dark, I’m nonjudgmental almost all of the time. It requires a lot of patience and focus, but it’s a quality essential to being happy. Before the actual act of ‘living unapologetically’ you have to first perfect qualities within yourself.
That heavy guy you see running on the sidewalk-applaud him. It took everything he had to get off the couch and be active today. That teenage girl you see on her cell phone while she’s at dinner with her family-cut her some slack. Her best friend’s mom just died and she’s comforting her. That mom you just saw arguing with an employee in the middle of the grocery store aisle-have sympathy for her. Her husband was just deployed yesterday and she promised her kids she’d spend all day with them eating ice cream and playing board games, but the grocery store is out of their favorite kind of ice cream. That boy who acts up at school-understand why. His parents beat him at home and he has no other outlet for his frustration.
There is no reason why you should see something you perceive as wrong and immediately think badly of the person doing the act. Take the time to think about all the possibilities of why they might be doing that, and realize your first reaction isn’t always justified.
One last thing, and then you’re golden: don’t apologize. Do what makes you happy and don’t be sorry about it. This doesn’t mean not to apologize if you hurt someone or do something wrong. It just means to seek happiness in any way you can, no matter what that looks like to others. I’ll use myself as an example. There is nothing I want more than to travel the world, and I don’t want kids. I feel like that will hinder my ability to see everything I want to see and go where I want to go. I don’t want to be held back or bound by anything. I want to be able to randomly book a flight if I feel like it. I want to be able to move to a different country every three months if that’s what I decide I want to do. When I first tell people that, they’re always shocked. A woman who doesn’t want children? Blasphemy! They think I’m selfish. Don’t get me wrong, I love children. I just don’t want any of my own. That may be how others define happiness, and that is 100% okay, but that’s not what it looks like to me.
If you need to get a new job or go back to school or take a vacation to be happy, do it. Who cares what anyone else thinks? It’s your life; no one can live it but you. And if people judge you, kindly refer them to this post so they can be enlightened.
Stay gold, Ponyboy.